The sun remained down. The rolling hills of the Van Vleck Ranch created slightly ominous silhouettes in the distance. Under the cast of darkness, my racing partner Philip and I began our warm up; we still didn’t quite know what was in store for us. It’s always a little surreal warming up in the dark. This day was no exception. As the sun came up to reveal the course, it was clear that hills would be less of a factor in this race compared to the Temecula beast. Given that, I figured the obstacles and sequencing would be a lot harder in this Sacramento Super Spartan Race. This would be a huge factor late in the race. Also, this would be a runners race favoring speed over strength. That bodes well for me because I am faster than I am strong. Because this was my third Spartan Race, I felt calm and prepared.
Spartan and Tetris weekends
I spent last weekend moving blocks around the screen competing against the best Tetris players in the world. I spent the next weekend competing against some of the worlds best Spartan racers. Interestingly, a lot of the prep phase was similar. The Spartan is shorter and requires less time being completely focused than the Tetris tournament. Spartan racing is obviously more physically demanding than playing Tetris, but a weekend focusing at the ultimate peak of mental performance is not walk in the park either. I value being versatile in life. A greater contrast couldn’t exist between two competitions. It is safe to say, if there was a combined competition between Tetris and Spartan racing, I would be a world champion!
Check out this cool video on my experience at the Tetris World Championships
The Temecula Spartan was an absolute inferno
With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees by 8am, the heat was a factor the entire race in Temecula. To top it off, I may have been a little bit dehydrated during the race. My pre-race nutrition left me with some gastrointestinal distress. My longer term pre-race nutrition left me with depleted glycogen stores. I was not primed to run fast during this race. I learned from this and adjusted my strategy for Spartan Super, Sacramento.
Training and Pre Race nutrition
In the months that lead up to this race I trained in a fasted state a lot. In this race I would use that strategy. 1 hour pre race I ingested Bullet Proof Coffee and about 3 grams BCAAs. That was I would have a minimal insulin response, while allowing for easy access to circulating free fatty acids later in the race. The BCAAs serve to protect against catabolism during the long hot race(gotta keep my biceps). During the race my intention was to ingest 1 Gu pack 30 minutes in.
Between Sacramento and Temecula, I spent more time running longer distances. In Sacramento I had a better feel for pacing compared to Temecula. This would be a very fast race because of the course type. My plan to take an aggressive pace for the first mile put my pace and 6:12 as we passed mile post one. I said “oh shit, I took that out a little fast.”
I consciously slowed down my next mile to ensure I would not crash out early. This came back to haunt me because at the end of the race I still had a little left in the tank.
We had to walk through this long Marsh about 6 miles in. I took off my shoes so my feet did would not get stuck in the muck. Just as I pulled myself out of the muck, I heard my name being called out. It was Philip, and he was right behind me. At this point I knew the race was on. One part of me was saying: “wow man, you are doing great. He beat you by 30 minutes in the last race.” The other part of me is saying, “you better pick it up and get the win because that would be awesome.”
The problem with me beating Philip is he is much stronger than me. All of the strength obstacles were back loaded into this race. The order went something like this: Tractor pull, bucket brigade, tire pull up hill and the Hercules hoist. I knew I probably didn’t have a big enough lead to get through all of those events ahead of Philip. At any rate, I trudged on.
It was inevitable for Philip to pass me on the strength obstacles and he did. I improved my ranking from 87 (in Temecula) to 19th overall and 11th in my age group. It’s cool to make some progress. Training is like a mountain, the closer you get to the peak the harder the gains are to make. What lies ahead are true tests of training and nutrition. I have some things to go to work on, which is pulling tires and again carrying a stupid bucket up a hill, but I also have some great stuff to build on.
When it comes to Tetris and Spartan race, nutrition and proper preparation are critical. I’m a proud top 20 finisher in a Spartan race and a top 4 finisher in the Tetris world championships.
I’m certain that no one else on earth can say that.